Under the Moonlight: 19 Best Things to Do in Venice at Night
If you are mesmerized by the architectural wonders and sights in the “City of Canals” during the day, wait until you see Venice at night! Lights cast a warm glow to the buildings, streets, and waterways, making the city look like an art installation.
Aside from wandering around, you might be wondering — how is the nightlife in Venice, Italy? Well, it can actually be pretty quiet at night, since a lot of its local workers commute back to home and the tourist traffic composed of day trippers from cruises and buses dissipate. That saying, you’ll still find plenty of activities in Venice at night to keep you engaged — whether it’s admiring the city through a night gondola ride, joining a food tour, or enjoying the best restaurants and bars.
Without further ado, here are the best things to do in Venice at night.
- 1. Watch the sunset
- 2. Take a night gondola ride
- 3. Enjoy aperitivo
- 4. St. Mark’s Basilica
- 5. Doge’s Palace
- 6. Wander around
- 7. Head to a rooftop restaurant or bar
- 8. Socialize at Campo Santa Margherita
- 9. Nightlife at Fondamenta Misericordia
- 10. Watch an opera at Teatro La Fenice
- 11. Caffè Florian
- 12. Harry’s Bar
- 13. Enjoy live music at Venice Jazz Club
- 14. Romantic dinner aboard a Venetian galleon
- 15. Food and wine tour
- 16. Casino di Venezia
- 17. Carnival of Venice
- 18. Festa del Redentore
- 19. Enjoy the festivities during Christmas holidays
- Tips for enjoying Venice at night
1. Watch the sunset
Start your evening early by finding a good spot to watch the sunset. The Grand Canal is a popular place for sunset watch — from here you can see the canal reflect the changing colors of the sky. You can also head to Rialto Bridge or promenades along the canal to enjoy this mesmerizing view.
Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute is also a popular spot for sunset watching, as it offers views of St. Mark’s Square, Doge’s Palace, Campanile, and Basilica Di San Giorgio Maggiore.
Aside from these, you’ll find different waterfront restaurants and cafes where you can sit back and enjoy the sunset. There are also rooftop terraces that offers a panoramic view of the city skyline and the sunset, including the Hotel Danieli’s rooftop terrace and T Fondaco dei Tedeschi shopping mall terrace which offers free entrance for those who made a schedule in advance.
If you have more time, consider taking a boat to one of the lagoon islands. San Giorgio Maggiore, Burano, and Murano offer a quieter place compared to the bustling streets of Venice to watch the sunset.
2. Take a night gondola ride
Taking a gondola ride is a must when visiting Venice. An evening ride gives you the opportunity to see the city in a unique perspective. Sit back and relax as the gondolier navigates through wide and tight alleys, along shimmering waters surrounded by illuminated streets and buildings, while singing traditional Italian songs. A night gondola ride amplifies the romantic ambiance of the The City of Love.
The gondolas can take wherever you want, but it’s recommended to go along the Grand Canal and other main tourist attractions like the Bridge of Sigh because they are much less crowded at night.
While most prefer to cruise under the moonlight, you might also consider going during the blue hour (or the hour before the sunset). You will appreciate the same scenery but there’s a little lighter to see everything.
The night gondola ride is a bit more expensive compared to day gondola rides and can sometimes even double depending on your preferred route, but as a lot of tourists can testify, it is worth the price difference.
3. Enjoy aperitivo
People at Venice love to have an aperitivo — a pre-dinner ritual where you can enjoy drinks and light snacks. Spritz is the most popular drink, consisting of prosecco, sparkling water, and a bitter liqueur such as Aperol or Campari and served with a slice of orange. Food can be anything from sandwiches to nibbles like crisps, nuts, olives, and more.
For the best aperitivo bars in Venice, check out Amo, which is located in the historical palace of Fondaco dei Tedeschi; Il Mercante; one of the first cocktail bars in the city; as well as St. Regis Bar, Dai Zemei, and Al Squero.
4. St. Mark’s Basilica
Located in Located in St. Mark’s Square, St. Mark’s Basilica (or Basilica di San Marco) is one of the most important religious landmarks in Venice. St. Mark’s Basilica was built in the 9th century to house the remains of Saint Mark, who was smuggled from Egypt by Venetian merchants.
The highlights of St. Mark’s Basilica include its stunning Byzantine architecture, marble inlays, the Pala d’Oro — an altarpiece made of gold and gems, a treasure consisting of rare relics, and the tomb of St. Mark.
St. Mark’s Basilica is open from 9:30AM to 5:15PM. However, unbeknownst to many, visiting the church at night is possible! You can avoid the crowd and go on a guided tour where an art-historian guide will take you through the halls and treasures — including the Pala d’Oro — of St. Mark’s Basilica.
5. Doge’s Palace
Another attraction in Venice that you can visit along with St. Mark’s Basilica is Doge’s Palace. Doge’s Palace is a historical museum that once served as the residence of Doge (the elected ruler of Venice) up until 1797.
Join a night tour inside Doge’s Palace, which lasts about 1.5 hours. Here you can learn about the Venetian republic, explore the palace’s grand halls and meeting rooms, walk across the Bridge of Sighs, see artworks and historical artifacts displayed at the in-house Museo dell’Opera, and discover the prisons which once held prisoners.
6. Wander around
Honestly, one of the best things to do in Venice at night is to just wander around through its empty streets and see the usual tourist attractions without the crowd. Places such as St. Mark’s Square and Rialto Bridge — the most popular postcard in Venice, are favorite spots as they look especially mesmerizing at night.
7. Head to a rooftop restaurant or bar
Venice offers several rooftop restaurants and bars where you can enjoy a drink while taking in the panoramic views of the city skyline and waterways.
Skyline Rooftop Bar is most popular rooftop bar in Venice. Located in the hotel Hilton Molino Stucky Venice on Giudecca Island south of Venice, it offers a modern and elegant setting to enjoy cocktails and aperitifs, stunning vistas of the historic center of Venice, and parties during the summer months.
Alternatively, head to Terrazza Danieli for fine dining or Settimo Cielo in Hotel Bauer Palazzo for Michelin-star cuisine and views of the Grand Canal and Venetian lagoon. Other notable rooftop restaurants and bars include the rooftop terrace in Hotel Aman Venice, Rialto Rooftop Bar in Hotel Rialto, and Altrove Roof Terrace at Hotel Sant’Antonin.
8. Socialize at Campo Santa Margherita
Campo Santa Margherita is a bustling square located in the district of Dorsoduro, not far from the Grand Canal. It’s a popular gathering place for locals and tourists alike, and because it’s near a local university, the ambiance here is energetic and youthful. Sit in a pub for drinks, listen to live music, and enjoy the company of your friends — or better yet, meet new people!
9. Nightlife at Fondamenta Misericordia
Fondamenta Misericordia is one of the few areas in Venice that offer great nightlife. During the day, this place is a great place for a stroll as it is located along a canal (the word fondamenta refers to a street beside a canal) and it lined with different restaurants, bars, and cafes.
Enjoy drinks at cozy wine bars, check out the bookshop/coffee shop called Sullaluna, or visit one of the bars often filled with Venetians and a few local patrons such as Paradito Perduto.
10. Watch an opera at Teatro La Fenice
Teatro La Fenice is a renowned theater around the world. True to its name, which translates to “Phoenix Theater,” it was destroyed multiple times by fire and other accidents and then rebuilt and resort. Today, it stands as a symbol of Venetian pride and artistic excellence.
This iconic theater is known for its excellent opera productions, including works by Italian composers such as Giuseppe Verdi, Gioachino Rossini, and Vincenzo Bellini. It also hosts ballet, classical musical concerts, dance productions, and other performing art events throughout the year.
Alternatively, instead of watching the opera, you can book a guided tour to Teatro La Fenice where a guide will walk you through its rich history.
If you’re looking for cheaper alternatives, check out Goldoni, the oldest theater in Venice, or Maliban Theater, which also functions as an opera house.
11. Caffè Florian
Caffè Florian is a great spot to visit at night in Venice. Established in 1720 by Floriano Francesconi, it is one of the oldest cafes in the world — and one of the most beautiful too. Aside from its beautiful facade, this café also has a prime spot in St. Mark’s Square, so you can enjoy your drinks while admiring the lively atmosphere at the square, watch tourists feed the pigeons, and appreciate the views of the basilica and bell tower.
Caffè Florian also offers live orchestra music every night. Like other cafes in Venice, during warmer months, it offers outdoor seats in the square.
This café serves the finest wines and coffee from Italy and other countries. The best way to enjoy this café is to order a bottle of prosecco (Italian champagne), which is served with nibbles.
12. Harry’s Bar
Of course, discovering Venice nightlife wouldn’t be complete without going to a bar. Harry’s Bar is the most famous bar in Venice. It was established in 1931 by Giuseppe Cipriani and it has since gained popularity as a meeting place for artists, writers, and celebrities including Ernest Hemingway, who wrote about it in a book in the 1950s — as well as Orson Wells, Peggy Guggenheim, Charlie Chaplin, Woody Allen, and more.
Harry’s Bar invented the Bellini cocktail, a delightful blend of prosecco and peach puree. Other recommended drinks include negroni and extremely dry martini.
Other popular bars in Venice at night include the Time Social Bar, Laboratorioccupato Morion, Wine Bar 5000, and more.
13. Enjoy live music at Venice Jazz Club
Venice Jazz Club is a cozy underground space where you can enjoy live jazz music from local and international performers. Located in the Dorsoduro district, it has a capacity of 50 people which creates an intimate setting where you can get up close to the musicians and immerse yourself fully in the experience. It also has a full bar offering wines, cocktails, and non-alcoholic drinks.
Other good options for live music in Venice at night are Al Vapore, a popular spot offering regular performances from local musicians, and Paradiso Perduto, one of the first venues in Italy to offer live music and now hosting full concerts of all musical genres.
14. Romantic dinner aboard a Venetian galleon
This isn’t your regular dinner! Enjoy a fabulous romantic dinner aboard a Venetian galleon where you can indulge in delicious pasta, seafood, and overflowing wine; listen to music; and watch the city lights reflecting on the water.
A galleon dinner cruise is expensive but worth it for the quality of food, services, and of course the spectacular ambiance. As the seats here are limited, reservations are required in advance.
15. Food and wine tour
There are multiple companies offering an evening food and wine tour in Venice. These tours typically take 2.5-3 hours and will take you to the best food spots in the city.
Walk through the streets of Venice, sample street food, and stop at local bacaris (or wine bars) to taste regional wines including full-bodied red wines, grappa, and prosecco. Italians are expert in wine pairing, so you can enjoy these drinks with cicetti dishes and other specialties. Depending on the tour, you may also stop for classic Italian comfort food such as pasta and gelato.
Aside from discovering the best foodie spots in Venice, you’ll also discover non-touristy areas of the city, get insider tips, and meet other tourists like you. Considering the above-average food prices, a food and wine tour offers great value overall and is one of the top things you can do in Venice at night.
16. Casino di Venezia
Want to try your chance with Lady Luck? You can find the oldest casino in the world in none other than Venice, Italy. Casino di Venezia was established in 1683 and currently has multiple venues at Palazzo Vendramin-Calergi — a magnificent Renaissance palace on the Grand Canal in the neighborhood of Cannaregio.
This casino offers traditional table games such as blackjack, poker, baccarat, roulette, and slot machines for patrons who prefer electronic games. It also hosts tournaments and various events, as well as live music performances, cabaret shows, and themed nights.
Make sure to check out its dress code policies. You may be required to dress elegantly depending on the time of the day of your visit.
17. Carnival of Venice
The Carnival of Venice (or Carnevale di Venezia) is an annual celebration in Venice, the highlight of which are the festival participants wearing elaborate period costumes and masks. This festival lasts for 2 weeks, starting 2 weeks before Ash Wednesday and ending on Shrove Tuesday (also known as Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras). The dates for the festival change every year depending on the liturgical calendar.
If your vacation in Venice happens to coincide during the Carnival, there are many night time activities that you can participate in including masquerade balls, parties, and other special events. You’ll find the center of activity at Piazza San Marco, the main square of Venice.
18. Festa del Redentore
Festa del Redentore (or The Redeemer Festival) is one of the most cherished festivals in Venice, Italy. It is celebrated every third Sunday of July every year.
The origins of this festival dates back to the 16th century, when the city was hit by a devastating plague in 1576, which resulted in the casualty of 50,000 people. The Senat built a church on the Giudecca Island to ask for divine intervention. The next year, the city celebrated the end of the plague and the tradition of the festival was born.
The festivities start on Saturday evening, when people head to St. Mark’s Square to take part in dances, music, and orchestra. Others also book dinner boat tours along the basin and enjoy traditional Venetian dishes. The highlight of the festival is the fireworks display at St. Mark’s Basin just before midnight. To get the best views of the fireworks, secure a spot in Riva degli Schiavoni, Giudecca, or Zattere areas.
19. Enjoy the festivities during Christmas holidays
Venice is a wonderful place to spend Christmas!
From November up to Carnival celebrations in mid-February, the city is decorated with beautiful Christmas lights. From small streets to the main areas of the city such as St. Mark’s Square and Rialto Bridge, you can appreciate the pretty lights and festive ambiance.
In December, head to Campo Santo Stefano in Dorsoduro for the Venice Christmas market. Taste different food and sweets and buy artisan products such as Maruno glass ornaments for the Christmas tree, Carnival masks, and more.
Tips for enjoying Venice at night
- The biggest draw of exploring Venice at night is the chance to see its attractions without the heavy tourist traffic.
- Is it safe to walk around in Venice at night? Venice is relatively safe, but it’s still best to exercise precaution especially when you’re traveling alone. A simple rule is to avoid doing things you wouldn’t be doing at home.
- Research the places you want to visit before you go. It’s best to book events with limited slots at least 3 days in advance, such as tours to St. Mark’s Basilica and Doge’s Palace or dinner on the galleon.
- Venice nights are especially cold, even in spring time. So pack warm clothes in your suitcase to keep yourself nice and comfortable.
- The nightlife in Venice typically ends pretty early. Dinner hours usually start from 7:30PM to 10:00PM. Bars close up around 11PM or 12 midnight, and sometimes up go on up to 3PM on touristy places.
That concludes our guide for exploring Venice at night! Do you have other recommended things to do in Venice at night or suggested spots for Venice nightlife? Let us know in the comments section below.
Katherine Cortes is a 30-something freelance writer/editor. She likes beaches, snorkeling trips, and relaxing staycations (preferably with bath tubs!).